Bonmarche closes next week, Lucas Bond closes next month. It’s not the best start to the year for Balham’s high street, that’s for sure. Shops come and go, that’s something to accept, but it’s what replaces them that is key to the make up of the main road.
Dare we say it, but Balham’s high street is losing some lustre. The last two high profile shop closures (M&S Simply Food and Woolworths) have seen bargain shops take up residence in their place. We’ve argued before that there’s nothing necessarily wrong with these shops, but when the high street is small enough as it is, we need as much variety as possible.
We would argue that Bonmarche wasn’t the best clothing shop for Balham anyway; a teensy bit dowdy where mid-length skirts are de rigour instead of a seasonal trend. What’s bound to replace it? We’re hoping another clothes shop to balance out the homeware and food shops, rather than compete against them.
One trend we’re noticing is organisations hiring space for afternoons, rather than renting out space. Pubs with the space to allow it are showcasing vintage fairs, car parks have markets and community spaces hold all manner of events. Where rents are increasing, these spaces give an opportunity to those who want to trade without the huge expense of a shop floor.
Whatever happens, the message is clear. We need to keep spending locally. This post isn’t meant to be preachy, but just voicing concern. Besides, there’s still plenty in Balham to get very excited about…
Let us know your thoughts about the state of Balham’s high street by leaving a comment below, and what you’d like to replace Bonmarche.